Alabama bill would ease CDL testing for vets

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/3/2013

An Alabama bill would end the state’s distinction as the lone state yet to allow driver licensing agencies to waive the CDL skills test for qualified military veterans.

According to the federal government, 49 states have rules in place that allow agencies to waive the CDL skills test for veterans. Ohio and Pennsylvania adopted the rule in recent weeks. States preparing to offer the skills test waiver are Alaska and South Carolina.

Alabama state Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, filed a bill for consideration during the upcoming regular session that would waive the skills portion of the test.

Advocates say the change is intended to simplify the process for veterans to get back to work driving truck.

The effort is similar to a new law in Ohio.

Ohio law requires that applicants must have been regularly employed as a member or uniformed employee of the U.S. armed forces, including the Ohio National Guard, within the past 90 days to qualify for the skills test waiver.

Effective immediately, the new law removes the recency requirement for the waiver.

Across the state line in Pennsylvania, a similar rule change benefits military veterans.

Pennsylvania law already allows service personnel returning from duty to exchange their military CDL for a state-issued CDL without requiring a driving test. However, to be eligible applicants must have at least two years of experience driving a military commercial vehicle “immediately preceding” application for a CDL.

The new law makes the waiver available at any time within five years after veterans return home. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Rochester, said the existing requirement is unnecessary.

“The military offers top-notch, real-life training that more than prepares its personnel to handle those vehicles,” Vogel said in a news release. “We should provide every opportunity for service members and veterans to use their skills and training in the civilian world.”

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